Where should the taking of bookings be regulated:
Question 8. If a business is taking bookings where should it be registered? For example should it be registered in every local authority where it takes bookings?
The responses to this question produced no strong consensus with differing views being submitted. These varied from those who supported registration in every area for reasons of enforcement to those who suggested this was no longer appropriate due to advances in modern technology.
From the Local Authorities responses were varied. Some suggested it was no longer appropriate for a business to be registered in each local authority area. Instead a new type of licence should be introduced that could operate in adjoining local authority areas in recognition that modern technology made such a restriction inappropriate and difficult to enforce. However, others offered differing views and suggested it was essential for enforcement to have an office premises in each local authority area where the business operated.
From the Trade Organisations responses were also varied. A majority of eleven trade respondents suggested a local office is essential and businesses should be registered in all areas where they take bookings. It was suggested this was necessary for public safety to ensure good effective local enforcement. But others suggested it was not necessary to be registered in every area where it takes bookings.
The Scottish Taxi Federation responded as follows: "As further explained above, in order to ensure the achievement of the policy objectives, the STF considers that it is per se the activity which should be regulated. In order to do so in the light of technological advances in the system for taking bookings, apparent in the industry since 2009, the focus must shift from the physical location of the communicative act of making and taking of a booking and shift to concentrate on the location within which the booked activity is to be carried out. Accordingly, any operator who offers services for hire and reward within the area of jurisdiction of a licensing authority should require to keep a regulated record, and to provide those records on request of an authorised officer or constable, of all bookings for the provision of the services within the area of the licensing authority. The STF would anticipate that the trigger for the recording obligation would be a journey which is intended to commence within any part of the licensing area, regardless of where the intended destination is stated to be".
From the Individuals responding, a majority of twenty nine responded that a business should be separately licensed in each local authority area.
Question 9. What sort of information or assistance should a business taking bookings be required to provide and to whom?
The Local Authorities responses suggested data should be available to other parties where appropriate.
The Trade Organisations suggested the owner's details or details of directors responsible should be made available to the local authority and Inland Revenue. It was also suggested where appropriate data should be available for passenger safety, enforcement and dealing with complaints.
Uber suggested that information provided to the public should include: "estimated time of arrival of vehicle (in minutes); name (and, if possible, photograph) of driver, and make, model and number plate of car; before the trip, on request, an estimate of the fare and information on how fares are calculated; at the end or after the trip, the final fare charged if the price was not agreed upfront; and a mechanism to provide feedback / make queries or complaints".
The Individuals` responses suggested journey data, driver and vehicle details, driver background checks, and details of vehicles in particular specifying those that are accessible and suitable for the disabled should be available as appropriate to the relevant authorities and parties.
The Disability and Accessibility organisations` responses suggested proof of equality and disability training in particular for drivers, data on accessibility and equality, support for disabled people, accessibility vehicle details, data on levels of service such as for guide dogs and any extra charges. It was also suggested the public including the disabled have access (for example via a website) to the appropriate information.
Miscellaneous Organisations suggested that regulatory bodies have access to hirer, driver, vehicle and journey data. Other suggestions included estimated arrival times, live mapping of vehicle progress and traffic patterns to develop city traffic systems.
Question 10. Do you have other concerns about where the taking of bookings should be licensed?
The Local Authority responses included comments that there must be clear responsibility for the safety of the passenger, the maintenance of the vehicle and fulfilling the contract. For example City of Edinburgh Councilsuggested: "The legislation should prohibit drivers of licensed vehicles taking any booking from a booking office or app not licensed under the 1982 Act, irrespective of the location of the office". And Glasgow City Councilalsocommented: "It is important that the conditions applied to a booking service provider complement and support those applied to taxi/private hire car operators and drivers. This can only be achieved if booking service providers are required to hold a licence in each local authority where they operate taxis and/or private hire cars".
The Trade Organisations` responses were varied. The Scottish Taxi Federation commented as follows: "There is no good reason to exempt any operator providing hire and reward services in any licensed area from the terms of the 2009 Order. The landscape has changed in the industry and this is the opportunity to ensure it is levelled in furtherance of the attainment of the policy goals". However Uber commented: "Per the principles of good regulation, it is important that whatever regulations are developed are proportionate to the public policy issue that they seek to address. Regulations that continue to require a physical presence in every licensing area may well be disproportionate to the benefits (if any) that they provide in terms of the ability of licensing authorities and the police to request booking records and other information in a timely and efficient manner".
The Individuals` responses suggested it would be preferable if all bookings went through a local office, licensing was done by local authorities and driver details are available to local authorities for public safety.
The Disability and Accessibility Organisations commented that in the absence of appropriate structures it will be difficult for the disabled to get complaints resolved and there must be clarity and accountability to enforce regulations.
The Miscellaneous Organisations` responses included comments that a national framework for taking bookings could help take advantage of the opportunities modern technology offers. The Scottish Council for Development and Industrystated: "As more companies develop their own modern technology such as mobile phone apps, it should be expected that more providers would operate city – region /nationwide provision and booking services. Therefore creating a national system for bookings would be preferable".
Question 11. Should the current position and status quo be maintained?
This question asked if the status quo should be maintained with no change for matters relating to where the taking of bookings should be regulated and what information should be provided. A majority of the Local Authorities, Trade Organisations, Disability and Accessibility Organisations and Miscellaneous Organisations said "yes". But the Individuals` responses were almost evenly divided.
Yes - the current position and status quo should be maintained:
One of the Trade Organisations suggested no change was necessary provided drivers were aware that they have the flexibility to work for more than one booking office or independently.
One of the Individuals suggested no change was necessary as the currents arrangements were working well.
No - the current position and status quo should not be maintained:
The Local Authorities that were in favour of change suggested there was a need to adapt to modern technology and business practice.
Trade Organisations` and Individuals` responses both suggested public safety and security were reasons in favour of change.